Manufactured by Bell Helicopters in 1967, accepted by U.S. Army given designation number 67-19534 November 1968
Shipped from CONUS via Thailand to Vietnam arrival January 1969 Assigned to Little Bears Company A of the 25th Aviation Battalion
The Little Bears “A” Company flew combat assault missions such as flying troops out to LZ’s and back again, Medevac, Search and Destroy, and Command and Control. Four helicopters were outfitted with special radio consoles for generals and brigade commanders to fly in and command their troops on the ground. These were easily recognized by the whip antennas mounted to the landing skid struts. (our helicopter referenced then as 534 reported to have these radios for CC)
Members of the “Little Bears” stenciled in white paint the image of a bear standing upright clutching a lightning bolt (from the 25th Infantry Division shoulder patch) onto the nose and side posts of their Huey’s. They also had patches made up that were then sewn on their fatigue shirt pockets.
From Duty Officer’s Logs at location XT655153 Vietnam:
1969, June 27 Three ship FB to XT 7517 C/T Tyrant 22 on 41.35 LB 534 LB 537 LB 492 1150hrs LB 534 notified.
1969, July 30 Little Bird 534 had a tail rotor strike at location XT5906 returning CC to check out the damage per duty officers log 1805hrs. “A” Ops notified.
1969, August 2 Little Bird 534 and Little Bird 537 diverted to pull FB and CS drop at 1645 hrs.
1969 4 August Little Bird 534 on Night Hawk Mission . UH-1H Nighthawk gunship was equipped with a Xenon Searchlight and a pintle mounted M134 7.62mm minigun for use during night interdiction missions. Nighthawk was also armed with one .50 cal. machine gun and two M60D 7.62 mm machine guns. The nighthawk was manned by a crew of two and four gunners. One of the gunners also manned the searchlight.
1969, August 11 Little Bird 534 Night Hawk for 1st Brigade is back at CC with inop minigun needs feedtray and radio 0414hrs. (?French Fort area) at 0500 LB 534 is off to TN.
1969, August 12 Little Bird 534 hit Tail Rotor on rice paddy dike on way in to LZ for Dust Off. Lost tail rotor A/C received small arms and automatic weapons fire. logged 1310hrs (?XT3514)
1969, August 13 note “aircraft received heavy automatic weapons fire resulting in TR strike (CCAD notes)
Shot down near Parrots Beak, Cambodian border in attempted Medevac of wounded troops at the fight for Patrol Base Kotrc (XT358148) , a small hill on the parrots beak. Helicopter was lost a football field distance north of this base.
Story here from co-pilot WO1 Tim K. Horrell:
Note on flare bath: Another idea tried in 1969 was the flame bath. Using rope, netting, or whatever was available at the time, we strung together three 55-gallon drums of FOUGAS (jellied fuel) with be a trip flare attached. As you released the load, the trip flare would go off. The barrels started to separate on the way down. When they hit the ground and spread out, the flare ignited the jellied fuel. It would make a huge mess on the ground, roughly similar to the high drag 500 pound napalm bombs dropped by the Air Force F-4s.
Note on Nighthawk: Nighthawk helicopter had a Mini-gun. This was a General Electric, electrically operated six barrel gattling gun that fired about 4000 rounds per minute. It was mounted on the left side so the aircraft commander had better control of the gun. The infrared capability allowed us to acquire targets at night without the enemy knowing what we were up to. Then we could switch on the Xenon light. That allowed both the infantry on the ground and air crews to engage the enemy. This high speed, 4000 rounds per minute mini-gun was astounding. Once refined, the gun and the searchlight were mounted together on a little plate toward the back of the cargo area. It put out an incredible volume of fire. You could literally fill a football field with bullets in just a second or two. That was pretty successful. It didn’t tear up the airframe too badly, and was a very effective weapon. After awhile the Vietnamese figured out the thing was devastating, so they wouldn’t shoot at us at all if they thought we were a Nighthawk.
After being ferried out, in August, 1969 Helicopter 534 sent to ARADMAC (Army Aeronautical Depot Maintenance Center) AVCOM Naval Air station CCAD (Corpus Christi Army Depot )Aircraft for repairs. It has 939 hrs of combat flight time already in 8 months of service.
1970, February NAS Corpus Christi ARADMAC “aircraft has completed crash damage overhaul”.
1970, April sent ot HQ 82nd Airborne Division, 3rd Army Ft. Bragg, North Carolina until October 1971, flying 300 hrs service, then
revamped as one of 122 Medevac Hueys to UH-1V configuration in 1972. The UH-1V is a permanent US Army conversion of theUH-1H for use as a aeromedical evacuation craft. They carry life support systems, high speed hoists, are equipped with advanced all weather avionics and are capable of low level flight.
April 1972 sent to 197th Aviation Company at 1583 total hours, Ft. Benning, Georgia
Hunter AAF at 1865 hrs September 1972
Ft. Stewart at 1994 hrs December, 1972
Ft. Rucker at 2297 hrs October, 1973
283rd Medical Detachment “Wings of Life” Ft. Bliss, Texas September at 2576 airframe hrs 1974-December 1975
Served in Fort Hood, Texas 507th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) from 19 – 19 Honduras 1987 supporting role. Missions Covering M.A.S.T. support for Ft. Hood, also Ft.Bliss and central Texas areas.
It later served for many years ( -1996) in the 336th Medevac, Newburgh, NY
336th Med. Det. (RA), out of SWF, Newburgh, NY. Mission site support at a lot of CONUS sites such as Drum, Bragg, AP Hill, Pickett, etc. In 87-88, the unit deployed to Honduras. It spent the next 6 months doing site support down there. Powderhorn DUSTOFF. In 90, was mobilized, and deployed to the Gulf region for Desert Shield/Desert Storm. She served there until relieved in May of 91, when the Huey’s couldn’t fly anymore in the heat. (We only had 2 left flyable anyhow). In 96, the unit folded its colors, and retired from the Army. Commander was Lieutenant Colonel Tom McHale was the commander of the 336th Medevac Company (Air Ambulance) Unit awarded Kuwait Freedom Medal.
Service in Desert Storm
The 336th Medical Detachment (Air Ambulance) (6 air ambulances) evacuated helipad or expedient site primarly to the 144th 400 Bed Evac Hospital at KKIA (King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) . The second hospital was the 50th Gen HOS located at Al Kharj Military Hospital which had a rooftop helipad.
From a Soldier of this unit:
The Price For Freedom -The call came into operations at 1600 hours at Riyadh-South Air Strip, previously abandoned but now much alive with the activity of the 336th Medical Detachment. This was the day the Ground War started and a C-130 was arriving at KKIA with the first load of American wounded. Two Dust Off MEDEVAC aircraft would be required to transport the most seriously injured to nearby hospitals. Our aircraft took off piloted by Capt. Pachulio and CW2 Castronova; medic SGT Don Mahon and myself as Crewchief. The weather was sunny and clear. Our two aircraft landed some minutes later and shut down, waiting for the arrival of the C-130. We watched as the C-130 appeared in the final descent, land and taxi to the Clearing Hospital. With two of the four engines shutting down, the rear ramp and door started to open. The flight crews and other medical personnel were waiting there to receive the wounded. Everyone was nervous and tense as that ramp slowly lowered, slower than I ever remember one dropping, waiting for a glimpse of our wounded boys. There it was. Hanging from the ceiling of the aircraft and so enormous that it obscured the wounded from view. It was the largest American Flag I have ever seen. The colors stood there strong and loud. I started to look around and noticed most everyone else was doing the same thing: looking at each other and swallowing hard. Something reached out of our hearts for those wounded and those we knew were dying far from here. I could see tears welling in almost every eye. And I will never forget the look in those eyes of the young men so far from home, paying the price for freedom.—SGT WILLIAM COOPER.
On return from Desert Storm, it had a new turbine engine -22 upgrade, and repairs, then it was purchased by DEEMI from Army at Ft. Bliss, NY in 1997
Operated by DEEMI in Flight use from 1997 to present in SAR/External load configuration at BIA
Interesting note is on upgrading the Main rotors to newer, one of the blades went to a helicopter used in the movie “The Last Castle” with Robert Redford.